Why You Should Stop Using The Seated Bench Press Machine At The Gym

The seated bench press machine may be popular among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike. At first glance, it seems safer than barbells or dumbbells. First of all, you can exercise from a seated position, which allows for more stability. Second, you don't have to worry about the weights falling out, notes Fitness Volt. Plus, it's easy to increase or reduce the amount of weight to lift so you can do drop sets. The experts at Fitness Volt say that beginners and seasoned lifters alike can reap the benefits. 

When used correctly, this piece of gym equipment can be just as effective as the standard bench press. This compound movement hits your pecs, rear delts, and triceps while building upper body strength, explains Fitness Volt. Just make sure you avoid common mistakes, such as locking your elbows and placing the seat too high or too low. Also, remember to breathe out as you push the weights away from your body. Keep your feet flat on the ground and brace your core for better support.

Sounds simple, isn't it? Unfortunately, the seated bench press machine isn't as safe as you might think. While it's true that using proper form can lower your risk of injuries, you're still better off lifting free weights. 

What's wrong with the seated bench press machine?

Gym machines may be considered easier to use than free weights, especially for newbies, but this doesn't mean they are 100% safe. A good example is the seated bench press machine, which can hurt your neck, back, and shoulders. Personal trainer Butch Sand told Prevention that many gym-goers are "seated too low with their head jutting forward, a rounded spine, and elbows flared high." This machine allows people to lift more weight, but it also puts stress on the shoulder joints.

Another problem is that most people have one arm stronger than the other — you can notice the difference when lifting a barbell or dumbbells. The bench press machine, on the other hand, may cause your stronger arm to work harder than it should. Over time, this can lead to joint problems and overuse injuries. "Set the seat high enough that the handgrips line up approximately with the nipple line," says Sand. He also recommends keeping your back straight, your chest up, and your rib cage slightly down.

Also, make sure you keep your workouts varied. The bench press machine can be a good choice for novice lifters, but your muscles will eventually adapt to the movement. As you make progress, try the standard bench press with a barbell or dumbbells to keep your body guessing and to prevent workout plateaus. Bodyweight exercises, such as dips and pushups, are effective, too, notes Fitness Volt. To stay safe, increase the load gradually and watch your form at all times.